Characters: Connor/Lester, various others
Rating: PG (note, part 3 is NC-17)
Words: 5,848 (25,340 total)
Disclaimer: Not mine, as nice as it would be
Spoilers: Set in season 3, assumes knowledge of season 2
A/N: Very sincere thanks to fredbassett, for betaing this for me so thoroughly in such a short time!
Summary: Lester has been having headaches, and they're getting worse.
Previous parts: ( Part 1 )
Connor felt a huge wave of relief when he saw Lester's eyes open. It was more of a flicker of his eyelids really, followed up with a squint, but it was enough to take a huge weight off his mind. He immediately reached for Lester's hand, although he wouldn't like to speculate as to who exactly was being reassured by the gesture.
“Lester?” he asked softly. They were on a hospital ward, so there was plenty of noise to cover their conversations, but his lowered volume was not for the benefit of others. It was for Lester himself. If it really had been another migraine, more loud noises so close by could cause him more pain.
“Connor?” Lester replied, voice slightly hoarse and equally quiet.
Connor squeezed his hand in response.
“Yep, got it in one. How you feeling?”
He waved to get the attention of passing nurse, who nodded at him and immediately left, presumably to go get the doctor on duty.
“Fine,” was Lester's automatic response. “What happened?”
Connor rolled his eyes, but Lester didn't seem to notice. “You fainted. Or collapsed, or had a seizure or something. They're not sure yet. I put you back in the car and drove to the hospital. I told them about your headaches, and they said they'd need to do some tests, but the fact that you're awake is a really good sign. You've been unconscious for a while.”
Lester blinked a few times, as though trying to sort things through in his mind.
“The hospital. That's where we are now? How long have we been here?”
“About 45 minutes, I'd say. I didn't think to look at my watch when you first fell, even though the doctor in A&E said I probably should have. You scared me a bit though, so I thought I did pretty well just getting you back in the car and all the way here to be honest. Are you sure you're okay? 'Cause you're allowed to feel rotten when you're in hospital. I think that nurse went to get a doctor, so they can probably give you some painkillers or something if you're feeling rubbish.”
“Forty-five minutes? It's only afternoon?” Lester asked slowly, having apparently ceased listening to Connor's verbiage several sentences ago. He was still staring into the middle-distance, which made Connor feel a tinge uneasy. He laughed the kind of laugh that is more a release of tension than an expression of amusement.
“Don't worry, I already called and cancelled the reservations at the B&B. I knew you'd fret if you thought that they thought that we were running late, and the nurses kept trying to tell me not to loiter while they were taking care of you, so I called the manager from the waiting area, and they said it was fine. Oh, and that they hoped you felt better soon.”
Lester exhaled in a burst of frustration.
“That's not what I... Connor, is it particularly dark in here?”
It was Connor's turn to pause then, confused by the question.
“No, not especially, why?”
Lester let his eyes fall shut.
“Because I can't see anything.”
Lester woke slowly. He opened his eyes, but after several seconds it became evident that his situation had not improved with a good night's rest like Connor had suggested it might.
It had taken a great deal of truly masterful coaxing before the hospital staff agreed to release him into Connor's care, but it had been a worthwhile effort. Not only had he been in a thoroughly unpleasant little hospital staffed entirely by overworked NHS employees, but it was also unfamiliar. Without the use of his eyes, he hadn't even been able to find the bathroom by himself. It was an entirely unsatisfactory arrangement.
So he had argued and complained and demanded his right to freedom until the doctor on duty had agreed to discharge him, on the condition that arrangements were made for a full set of tests at a more convenient hospital as soon as they got home.
He knew Connor hadn't wanted him discharged so soon, but despite his skill in convincing the hospital staff, he was unable to properly explain to Connor why it was so important to be at home. Lester needed to be somewhere he could maintain control. He needed to be able to move about with some degree of freedom, and not need to call for assistance every time he wanted to travel more than a yard from his bed. He was already dreading the inevitable re-admittance to hospital tomorrow, but for tonight at least, he was in his bed. His own bed, at home, with Connor.
Lester reached out tentatively, not wanting to wake his partner but wanting the reassurance of his presence. His hand touched the bedding. He tried again, stretching a little further this time in case he had simply misjudged the distance. Still no Connor.
Lester sat up, pulling his hand back to rest in his lap. Connor had probably just gone for a moment, he'd be back soon. It was nothing to worry about.
Lester waited. Out of habit he turned to where the bedside digital clock sat, normally glowing the hours and minutes all night through. He berated himself. If he couldn't see Connor, why would he be able to see the display on the clock?
He twined the bedclothes between his fingers. He wasn't even certain that it was still night time. For all he knew, he could have slept right through until morning and Connor had already gone off to work. Lester knew his way around the house, but loathe as he was to admit it, there were things he wasn't able to do without someone guiding him. He wasn't ready to spend a whole day without Connor there to help out. Surely Connor would have woken him up before he left? Even if only to say goodbye?
“Connor?” Lester whispered into the dark. There was no response. He tried again, louder. “Connor?”
His breath quickened. Would Connor have left him vulnerable like this? Had there been an anomaly alert? Had Connor gone off to chase (or be chased by) some new prehistoric creature? If something happened, would he even find out before it was too late?
Lester's hand darted to the bedside table, fumbling around for his mobile phone and flicking it open to call Connor, then he stopped. He couldn't see the phone's screen. He couldn't tell if it was on or off, whether the keypad was locked... He couldn't even see what numbers he was pressing. He very carefully closed the phone and put it back on the table. His hands started to shake very slightly.
“Hello?” he called out, loud enough to echo through the flat. He heard a scuffling sound coming from the living room, which could have been Connor but could just as easily have been the two diictodons responding to the sound of his voice. “Connor?” he tried for the fourth time, once again a whisper.
“Lester?” came the response. It didn't sound far away, maybe a few yards. He felt a wave of relief.
“Where were you?” Lester heard Connor's footsteps crossing the wooden floorboards, and the sound of something being set down on the table by the far side of the bed.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you. I just went to get a glass of water... Are you okay? Why are you sitting up like that?”
Lester blinked, not that it made much of a difference to his ability to see. He felt foolish. He'd probably just been woken by the sound of Connor going down to the kitchen. Everything else had been his imagination running away with him.
He pushed down the part of him which wanted to reach out for Connor, just to reassure himself that this was not also imaginary. James Lester did not do needy.
“I'm fine, I just didn't know what time it was. I thought maybe you'd left me to have a lie in while you went in to work.”
Connor didn't reply for a moment, and Lester had to stop himself from asking if he was still there. But then the bed dipped and there was a hand wrapping around his wrist, pulling it across towards Connor's side of the bed.
“Here, see? I was only gone a moment, my side isn't even cold yet. I'm sorry if I scared you. I promise I won't leave you alone again without letting you know first, okay?” The touch of skin on his wrist was so welcome that Lester didn't even try to pull away.
“It's all right Connor, you didn't scare me. I just wanted to know if you were still here.”
The dip in the bed moved until Lester felt Connor press up against his side, wrapping one arm over his side and feeling Connor's legs tangling with his own.
“If you say so, James. Do you think you can go back to sleep?”
Lester briefly considered shaking his head, insisting on the both of them getting up and turning the TV on loud just so he could level out his breathing and get himself back under control. But that would mean he would need to pull away from Connor, and the traitorous, needy part of him wouldn't let him do that, so instead he nodded.
Lester felt the slightly cooler skin of Connor's cheek press in on his neck, near the pulse point. He concentrated for a few minutes on his own heartbeat, then he closed his eyes and let himself drift.
Eventually, wrapped up in Connor, he fell asleep.
Lester had known his reprieve from hospital would be brief when he’d agreed to the terms, but at the time he'd have taken almost anything he could get. Now that it was morning, Connor was determined to get him admitted again as soon as possible.
“It could be a couple of days, so I'll pack a few changes of clothes.” Connor called down from their room.
Lester was sitting on the sofa in the lounge, hands carefully clasped in his lap like an errant schoolboy under instruction not to touch anything. That image was sadly not far from the truth, because while Lester knew his way around the apartment well enough, it was still hard to get around without his sight. There were too many things which could be knocked off surfaces, or broken by seeking hands. Too many sharp edges. He remembered before his first child was born, he and Cassie had spent days going around their house at the time, child-proofing everything. Lester hoped that Connor wouldn't have to do the same thing here for his benefit.
“I'm going to put some music onto an MP3 player, so you've got something to listen to besides the other patients and day time telly. Any requests?” Connor's voice was much closer this time, almost right in front of him, and Lester jumped. Connor quickly apologized, taking Lester's hands in his own. “Sorry, I should have made more noise coming down the stairs. I didn't mean to startle you.”
Lester quickly withdrew his hands, caught between his desire for contact and his distaste for coddling. He folded his hands carefully back on his lap.
“You know what's in my music collection, pick something from there,” he replied, carefully steering clear of Connor's reference to his own infirmity. He felt Connor brush warm fingers over his own once more as a sign of understanding, then heard him clomp off, footsteps exaggerated for Lester's benefit.
Lester sat idle for a few moments more before he once again began to feel ill at ease. In a sudden bout of petulance, he stood up, shuffling very carefully towards the bathroom. Connor was sorting out the clothes and the entertainment so he would sort out the toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb; it wasn't rocket science. He knew the way to the bathroom well enough that it wouldn't matter whether he could see or not. Through the lounge, turn right down the hall, first door on the left.
He made it past the glass coffee table, barely brushing it with the side of his trousers. The piano and chairs were easily bypassed. Confidence growing, he noted the change in flooring as he stepped onto the hall rug.
Pride going before the fall, he skirted round the small end table at the end of the hall just a touch too quickly, catching his arm on the large, decorative mirror on top. Simultaneously overbalancing both the table and himself, he tried to turn to compensate.
He was barely able to recover his own balance at the last moment by pressing a hand hard to the wall. The table, however, was not so lucky. It fell, the sound of the mirror breaking barely audible over the clatter as the rest of the table fell, scraping down the side of Lester's leg as it went. Lester swore loudly at what was undoubtedly going to end up being a very noticeable bruise and a very difficult mess to clean up.
“Lester? Are you okay?” The worried call came from somewhere behind him.
Lester quietly cursed his own foolishness.
“Fine, Connor, I just... bumped something.” Lester considered his options. He had shoes on, so the broken mirror wouldn't damage him, but it would scratch the floorboards if he stepped on one of the shards. Not to mention the minor problem of having no idea how the table had fallen and therefore no idea whether he could even get past it.
He heard Connor's normal footsteps as he reached the lounge room, then a hesitation before Connor took the last few steps in his loud, clomping way. Lester felt his shoulders slump just a tiny bit. He had wanted to do this by himself, to prove that he wasn't completely incompetent, but now that was unlikely.
“Hey, I thought you were going to wait in the living room.” Connor said.
Lester couldn't think of anything to say that would make his predicament seem more normal, so instead he opted for the truth.
“I was just getting some things from the bathroom to take with me. Toiletries.” He was aware of Connor taking his arm, trying to lead him back towards the lounge, but he stood his ground.
Connor tried harder.
“It's okay, I already packed all that stuff, just... Come back out of the way, and I'll clean up this lot.”
“This is my flat, Connor. If I want to stand here then I damn well will, whether I'm in the way or not.”
Connor let go of his arm then, and Lester wished he could see the man's face. He couldn't even tell if his outburst had provoked hurt or amusement. He had no feedback. He had no idea how to respond. He waited for some small hint.
“Okay, I'll just go finish up with the music... But let me know if you need anything.” The words were softly spoken, which made it that much harder to identify Connor's emotions. It was a bizarre sensation. Connor had always been easy to read as a book, his emotions written large all over his face, but here and now Lester couldn't even tell if he was happy or sad.
Lester heard Connor turn and take a few steps away, then almost instantly felt himself deflate. All the righteous indignation he'd felt only a few seconds before evaporated and he felt a weary inevitability take hold.
“Connor?” he asked, and was relieved when the footsteps away stopped. “Did you remember the toothpaste?”
“The right one? Not the one in the green tube, that's the one the kids use when they visit.”
“Nope, the one in the white tube.”
There was an awkward pause for several seconds, while Connor waited for Lester to say something and Lester tried to think of something to say.
“I think I broke the mirror,” he admitted eventually, although it was almost certainly unnecessary. “Are there any pieces on the floor in my way? I don't want to step on them.”
“That depends on which way you're headed,” Connor answered cautiously.
Lester let his shoulders drop further.
“Back into the lounge,” he acquiesced. He heard Connor come towards him, and waited patiently as he heard the scuffling, chinking sound of pieces of glass being kicked out of the way.
“All clear...” Connor said, then after only a moment. “Would it be okay if I walked you back to the chair, or would you rather...”
“I'd rather be able to act like a normal, independent adult, but clearly that's out of the question,” muttered Lester. His moodiness was starting to grate even on his own nerves, leading to a vicious downward spiral. “Clearly I am now an incompetent old man who can't even get to the bathroom without his carer holding his hand!”
“Okay, that's enough. Just stop it!” snapped Connor in response. The tone was so unexpected that Lester was momentarily taken aback. He opened his mouth to reply, but Connor interrupted him. “Look, you're sick. That's all. And that's okay. It's like having trouble talking after a trip to the dentist, or having to walk around on crutches because you broke a leg. It's no fun, and it's kind of uncomfortable, and you have to rely on other people a bit more than usual, but in the end it goes away and you're still the same person you always were. And I like helping you, and I don't get many opportunities to do it, so stop being so bad tempered about it all the time and just let me help! Then eventually you'll get better and everything will be okay again. Okay?”
“Is that so, Connor? Are you speaking from a position of authority on the matter now? Because last I checked you were a computer technician, not a neuroscientist. There is every possibility that this is how it's going to be from now on, that it won't ever go back to normal. What do you think will happen then? Do you think we’ll just continue as before, like nothing ever happened? Because I don't think even you could be so naive.” Lester declared. He heard Connor shifting around, but couldn't be sure what he was doing.
“Well...” Connor replied. “Well, if that happens, then we'll find ways to deal with it. There are loads of blind people in the world, and they manage just fine, it just takes time and practice. And in the mean time, you'll have to trust me to be your guide dog.”
Lester was quiet then, and for once Connor didn't seem inclined to draw him out with his touch, content this time to let him sort through his thoughts by himself. Lester pressed two fingers to the bridge of his nose. He was so tired of being tired.
He was cornered, trapped in his own house, with only Connor to provide assistance. He didn't want to accept it. He didn't want to need it. He didn't want Connor to offer it.
He had no choice.
He reached out a hand for Connor to take.
“If you are to be my guide dog, perhaps you could guide me to the sofa? And perhaps later we can look into harness and leash options.”
The doctor's words hung in the air between them, unfamiliar and heavy with implication. Cortical Visual Impairment.
Lester's eyes were fine, physically. There were still the same signs of long-sightedness that he had always had, but his pupils were responsive to light, the lenses still stretched and contorted to focus on objects in front of him, and in a spectacularly bizarre demonstration, the doctor was able to demonstrate that his eyes still tracked moving objects as they passed through his field of vision, even though when prompted Lester was unable to say what it was that he had just seen.
There were lots of other terms being tossed about. Blind sight, Cortical Blindness... But they all came down to the same basic idea.
“You're talking about brain damage?” Connor asked bluntly, focusing as fiercely as he could on understanding what the physicians were telling them.
“In essence, yes, but a very selective variety. The parts of James' brain responsible for turning raw visual data into information that the rest of the brain can process do not appear to be working as they ought to be.”
“It's 'Lester'. He prefers to be called 'Lester'. How does someone just... get brain damage, though? I mean, isn't there normally a physical cause? It's not like a virus or something that you can catch.”
There was another flurry of complicated information then, washing over both Connor and Lester in a confusing wave. It soon became evident that the doctor had no idea of the cause, but that there were several hundred tests which could be carried out to help isolate it.
Lester nodded, resigned.
“Where do we go from here then?” he asked, once again sounding the proper, calm and in-control civil servant that Connor was so familiar with.
“We've scheduled in an MRI for early tomorrow morning. We'll get you into a room for tonight, then see how things look after tomorrow's scan.”
Connor was about to interrupt again, to ask for clarification on a few of the points that they had brought up earlier, but Lester beat him to it.
“I understand. Thank you. Could we have a moment?” he asked.
Connor went to speak, to offer some words of support or positivity, but Lester spoke first.
“I need you to arrange for Captain Becker to see me as soon as is practical. There are some things I need to discuss with him.”
Connor furrowed his brow.
“Becker? I mean, yeah, no problem, but... Why do you need to see Becker?”
“I need to speak to him regarding the ongoing operation of the ARC while I am incapacitated, that is all. Can you arrange that now?” Lester asked.
“Sure.” Connor responded, then hesitated before laying a hand on top of Lester's. “Did you want to talk about any of that stuff they just told us? Or are you just sending me to get Becker so you can have a few minutes to yourself? Because if that's what you need, then you just say and I'll go wait outside until you're ready.”
Lester smiled. “I'm fine, Connor. I appreciate both offers, but night now I need to speak to the captain. Once the ARC is sorted, then perhaps we might discuss my current situation, but not before.”
Connor nodded, stood, then on the spur of the moment leaned down next to Lester and gave him a gentle peck on the cheek. Lester gave a slight huff of surprise, then reached out to the place where he expected Connor to be. Connor caught the hand and held it between his own.
“The sentiment is appreciated.” Lester said, then reclaimed his hand. “Now go and make the phone call before I give up on you and go hunting for a telephone myself.”
“Captain Becker, I presume?” Lester asked, mere seconds after the captain had found his way into his private room. Becker blinked in surprise.
“Yes sir. How did you know?”
“Would you believe I recognized your cologne?”
“Sir?” Becker replied, feeling unexpectedly as though he were at a disadvantage.
“There are very few people walking around in heavy military issue boots on this particular ward, Captain. Do sit down, Connor assures me there is a reasonably comfortable chair by the window.” Becker did as he was told, then cleared his throat in case Lester had not noticed his movement.
“I understand you wanted to see me?” he prompted. Becker had been more than a little surprised at the request, especially given that even Connor seemed to be in the dark as to Lester's motivation.
Lester merely nodded.
“Yes, I do. Are we alone?”
Becker went to nod, then noted his mistake.
“Yes sir,” he said out loud.
“Very good. As you know, Captain, there has been little to no opportunity to study long-term exposure to the anomalies. Up until recently, there were no candidates who could claim to have had such exposure, let alone make themselves available for study. Now, there is every possibility that my current condition is completely unrelated, but I am not one to deny the possibility of a relationship without evidence. I need you to arrange for the testing of anyone who has been involved with the anomaly project for an extended period of time. But...” Lester hesitated, hunting for words. Becker waited patiently until Lester continued, “I think it would be best for such tests to be performed... subtly. I don't want anyone to become alarmed unnecessarily.”
Becker considered the request. He didn't really think that Lester's logic held together particularly well. While it was true that Lester had been involved with the anomaly project as long as, or indeed, longer than any of them, he had spent most of that time far away from the anomalies themselves, in the relative safety of his office. If there were any symptoms to be seen, he would have expected them to manifest in Abby or Connor first.
Then the reason for the request fell neatly into place. Lester was worried that Connor might also be facing this bizarre condition. Becker allowed himself a small smile, safe in the knowledge that no one present would be able to see it. He had often wondered about Connor and Lester, how they could ever work as a couple. Connor was so openly affectionate and enthusiastic, while Lester was so distant and reserved. But Becker suspected that maybe he was seeing a hint of something now, a mutual care and respect rarely shown in public.
“Of course, sir, I'll speak to the medical staff. I'm sure they'll be able to come up with some routine tests which need to be run. Extensive routine tests.”
Lester's lip quirked upward in approval, and he gave a curt nod.
“Very good, Captain. Now, as I am currently incapacitated I expect that the political buzzards will already be circling. There are a great many people who would seek to take advantage of the situation, even if only to give them some eyes and ears inside the facility. I will need you to keep me informed of any attempts to manipulate the status quo in my absence. Do you understand?”
“I'm pleased to hear that. I appreciate you coming out here at such short notice. You can send Connor back in if you see him in the hall. I expect he will be hovering again.”
Becker almost made it all the way to the door before he paused and turned around to consider the man in the hospital bed.
“Sir, if you don't mind me asking... Have you spoken to Connor about your theory? About the anomalies?” Becker didn't even know why he wanted to ask the question. He already knew the answer, but he still wanted to hear it from Lester. To see it in his face.
Lester turned his head away from Becker, and teased at his lower lip with his teeth the way he sometimes did when posed with a particularly tricky situation at work. He rubbed absentmindedly at the back of his neck.
“I don't see that there is any reason to worry him about it yet. He has more than enough on his mind already.”
Becker nodded, then added for clarity, “Of course, sir... I hope you recover soon.”
“I already asked if it was okay for me to come along, and they said it would be fine. If I don't go now, they'll want to know why. And then I'd have to explain that it's because my boyfriend is worried about not looking manly in front of the nurses,” Connor argued.
Lester was acting aloof again, which was normally irritating enough by itself, but it was doubly so this time because Connor knew just how much Lester hated the idea of having an MRI done. The man had claustrophobia, although he rarely admitted it, and even knowing that he wouldn't be able to see how cramped the machine was didn't seem to be reducing his anxiety levels.
Lester made an indistinct noise of disapproval.
“Don't be tiresome, Connor. Appearances have nothing to do with it. I'm a grown man, and I'm in the hands of experts. I most certainly do not need a babysitter holding my hand for me.”
“That's okay, I wouldn't be holding your hand. They said I would be waiting in the control area while the actual pictures were being taken, but we'd be able to talk to each other over the intercom if you got worried or anxious.”
“Why would I be worried?” Lester asked, tone wavering within touching distance of defensive.
“Because I know you,” retorted Connor. “You hide it pretty well, 'cause you always do, but the fact that we're even having this argument tells me you hate the idea of going there alone. So I'm coming too. And that's final.” Connor crossed his arms, even though he knew full well that Lester wouldn't be able to see it. If nothing else, it made Connor feel more confident and decisive.
Lester just sighed.
“Just, don't get in the way of the technicians. And don't talk to me like I'm a frightened child.”
Connor smirked, pleased at his success. “Done and done. See, that wasn't so hard?”
Lester was saved from having to argue that particular point by the arrival of the orderly with a wheelchair to take him down to the MRI room. Connor trailed along afterward, very carefully staying out of everyone's way as requested.
Even looking through the glass window separating the control room from the device itself, Connor could see how tense Lester was. His hands were bunched into fists, and his face was even more pale than usual. Connor was almost expecting to see Lester pass out, but didn't dare mention it in case he was accused of being patronizing and sent away. So he kept his silence, trying his hardest to project reassuring thoughts in the direction of the machine.
The MRI machine itself was smaller than he had expected. It was much more compact than those early versions that they sometimes showed on TV, and had cream and grey plastic coverings on all the visible external surfaces. In a slightly ironic moment, Connor realized that he was quite glad Lester couldn't see where he was, because lying in that tiny space with your head restrained in a thin plastic frame would have been enough to make anyone claustrophobic, predisposition or not.
“All right, just stay as still as you can now, I'm going to turn on the machine,” the young female technician said into the microphone which Connor had been informed would play through to the ear buds Lester had been given. Apparently, when the intercom was disengaged, it would be playing classical music, to help cover up the loud thumping noises that the machine sometimes made. Connor hoped it was at least a piece of music Lester liked.
The technician pressed a few buttons, and various lights and indicators changed in inscrutable ways.
Lester's body twitched.
“Just try to stay still,” the young woman started to say into the microphone, but Connor's eyes were on Lester. The twitching didn't look normal, and then all of a sudden the only thing Connor could think was 'seizure'.
“There's something wrong, I think you should shut it off,” he said, with admirable rationality. The woman seemed only mildly surprised.
“Just relax, James,” she added, speaking into the intercom with excessive calm. “It's very important that you stay completely still.”
In seconds, Lester's twitches transformed to physical shudders, and then to violent, uncontrolled convulsions. Connor pressed both hands to the glass and called out to him, momentarily forgetting about the microphone he was supposed to use. Then he froze.
A hundred thoughts raced through his head in an instant, situations playing through with the sort of speed normally attributed to a near-death 'life flashing before your eyes' scenario. “Oh God...” Connor murmured as realization settled, heavy and sudden. “Oh my God, you've got to turn it off! Now! I think I know what's causing this!”
Lester's sudden decline combined with Connor's outburst seemed to fluster the young technician into hitting the kill switch. The moment the indicator light changed colour Connor was through the door.
Lester's uncontrolled convulsions had stopped, only to be replaced by an equally uncontrolled panic. He was struggling in the small space, alternately hitting at the inside of the chamber and grasping uselessly at the restraint preventing his head from moving. There was a continuous string of sound coming from him, words blurring into one another into a muddle of distress, and Connor heard his own name in the mix, but couldn't find any context.
Connor grabbed the sliding surface that Lester was lying on and pulled him out, giving him some freedom of movement. He unclasped the head restraint, barely having time to pull it clear of Lester's head before the man sat bolt upright, confused hands grasping at anything they could touch. Lester's legs swung to the side as though to stand up, but Connor countered by wrapping his arms around Lester's torso and pulling him close, uttering a constant stream of reassuring nonsense.
“It's okay, it's okay, it's over. I made them turn the machine off and it's over now, you're okay, you're safe, I'm here...” Connor kept one arm wrapped around the other man in an attempt to stop him from fleeing, while using the other to pet at Lester's brown hair and caress his face in what he desperately hoped was a soothing way.
It wasn't working. Lester's hands were grabbing even more frantically at Connor's clothes, and his words were barely distinct and getting louder. Connor risked a glance up at the technician who had been operating the machine, but saw an orderly and someone who was probably a nurse entering the room instead. The positioned themselves opposite Connor, and with a few soothing words the nurse injected something into Lester's arm.
After a second, Connor felt Lester's grip go slack and his head slump on Connor's shoulder near his neck.
It took much longer for Connor to stop shaking.